What to Say? Re-reading A Sword in the Stone

I started to explore The Sword in the Stone in an effort to understand my own literary influences (and I plan to read others). Boy, I'd forgotten--or never noticed as a child--the bizarre racist asides in this novel. Characters who, presumably, have never heard of Indians are compared to "Red Indians" when they get tan or start a fire, and I won't even go into the jaw-dropping rant by a crazy falcon that the main character, Wart, meets after Merlyn has magicked him. Suffice it to day, I think Mr. White was indulging his humor, and his humor can be racist. Classism shows up, too, but it made me snort instead of wanting to throw the book across the room. 

And yet. For most of the narrative, I feel as if I am in such expert hands. White writes superb prose and reveals a deep understanding of what life must have been like in Arthur's time. He was a falconer himself, and it shows. 

Would I recommend this book? With a big fat warning, yes. With T. H. White, I have to admire the writer without liking the man.

A Monster Calls

 A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd. Illustrated by Jim Kay.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd. Illustrated by Jim Kay.

A Monster Calls broke so many rules for my "typical read" category. It's contemporary in setting, for one thing, and I often choose historical times, fantasy, or futuristic worlds. The circumstances are sorrowful; the main character's mother is dying of cancer, his dad is elsewhere, and his grandmother is struggling, too.

Oh, then there's the monster. The poor kid is buried in problems.

Never mind that.

The art is perfect. The story is masterful. Go fetch this book, and for the love of Mike, don't buy it as an ebook. Show some sense.

From the author website:

The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

Twice Carnegie Medal-winning Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself, beautifully illustrated by Jim Kay. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel of coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults, and the only book to win both the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal.

On My Nightstand: Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

 The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

I've just started on The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. It looks so promising (and I almost never love a book right off), I decided on an early recommendation: gracious prose, a compelling main character, and great world building. I've been hungry for a book like this one for a long time.

From the author website:

She was born with her eyes closed and a word on her tongue, a word she could not taste. Her name was Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, and she spent the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s stories and learning the language of the birds, especially the swans. And when she was older, she watched as a colt was born, and she heard the first word on his tongue, his name, Falada.

From the Grimm’s fairy tale of the princess who became a goose girl before she could become queen, Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original, and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can lead the people she has made her own.

Awards & Honors